Emil Fechtner – 29.10.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in 310 Sqd, Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Vilem Goth – 25.10.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here.

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in Battle of Britain, Biography, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Raimund Puda – One of the Few

Raimund PŮDA

…………….* 18.08.1912., Brník, Kolín, Czechoslovakia.

…………….† 17.03.2002., Henly-on-Thames, UK.

Pre WW2

Raimund Půda was born on 18 August 1912 at Brník, near Kolín. He was the only son of Jan, a forester, and Františka. On completion of his elementary education, he attended Technical School in Prague where he trained to be an aircraft mechanic. After finishing his course, he was employed at the Letov aircraft factory at Prague-Letňany airfield. This close connection with aviation inspired him to become a pilot.

Raimund Půda, Prostějov 1932

In 1930, aged 18, he was called up to undertake his compulsory two-year military service. Because of his previous aviation experience, Raimund was selected to join the Military Aviation Academy, at Prostějov, for his basic flying training. He completed the course in August 1932 and was posted to the 1st Air Regiment at Prague-Kbely airbase. In the Summer of 1935, he was selected for fighter pilot training at Prostějov, and after the course was posted to 43rd Fighter Squadron of the 1st Air Regiment.

His above-average ability as a pilot resulted in him being selected to join the Czechoslovak aerobatic display team for the 1937 European International Aerobatic Championships at Zurich. There he won the Solo Aerobatic contest and the Czechoslovak team convincingly won the championship.

Raimund Půda, with Czechoslovak aerobatic team, Zurich 1937.

He remained in the Air Force until 18 September 1938 when he left to join ČSA – České Aerolinie, the state airline – as a commercial pilot. On 15 March 1939, under threat of imminent invasion from Hitler, and with no help from her allies, Emil Hácha, the Czechoslovak President, had little choice but to cede to their demands and ordered the Czechoslovak military to remain in their barracks and not resist the occupation. The occupying Germans disbanded all military and civilian aviation in the country with all personnel being dismissed. By this time Raimund had accumulated a total of 1250 military and civilian flying hours.

But just four days later, on 19 March 1939, former senior officers of the now-disbanded Czechoslovak military had started to form an underground army, known as Obrana Národa [Defence of the Nation]. Obrana Národa also worked in co-operation with Svaz Letců, the Airman Association of the Czechoslovak Republic. One of their objectives was to assist as many airmen and soldiers as possible to get to neighbouring Poland where they could be formed into military units to fight for the liberation of their homeland. These two organisations provided money, courier and other assistance to enable airmen to escape to Poland. Usually, this was by crossing the border from the Ostrava region because of the close proximity of the ‘new’ Polish border since Poland had occupied the Český Těšín region of Czechoslovakia on 10 October 1939.

Having been denied the chance to resist the occupying Germans, Raimund was one of the many Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who saw it was their duty to go to Poland from where they could fight to achieve the liberation of Czechoslovakia. He and Josef Hubáček, a fellow pilot from his Air Force days and member of the Czechoslovak aerobatic team in Zurich 1937, both left their wives behind as it was not possible to take them, and caught the train from Prague to Ostrava and from there, on the night of 18 July 1939, they successfully hid aboard a coal train which was leaving from Ostrava to Katowice, Poland. Having successfully crossed the border to Poland, they jumped-off the moving train at a designated point, walked through a forested area and came across a recently harvested field with haystacks. They hid in one for the rest of the night. The following morning they set off to a nearby cement factory, as had been pre-arranged by Obrana Národa, where they would be met and helped with their onward journey to Krákow where they would report for duty at the Czechoslovak Consulate.


However, the Polish Authorities, who recognised the new puppet State of Slovakia, showed little interest in the Czechoslovak military who were escaping across their border in groups and would not allow independent Czechoslovak units to be established on its territory as they were concerned about antagonising neighbouring Nazi Germany. Only after lengthy negotiations between Czechoslovak Diplomats in France and Great Britain, and the French government, did the French agree to permit 4,000 Czechoslovaks into the French Foreign Legion – French law did not allow for foreign military units to be on its territory in peacetime, and the Czechoslovak escapers would be required to join the French Foreign Legion for a five-year period with the agreement that, should war be declared, they would be transferred to French military units. The alternative was to be returned to occupied Czechoslovakia and face German retribution for escaping – usually imprisonment or execution with further retribution to their families.

The Czechoslovak escapees were billeted at Maly Bronowice, a former Polish army camp outside Krakow, while arrangements were made for their transportation, by sea, to France. Nearly two weeks later, at 04:00 on 27 July, Raimund, with 546 other Czechoslovak escapers, left Maly Bronowice and travelled by train to Gydnia, on the Polish Baltic coast where they boarded the ‘Chroby’, a Polish ship, on 29 July and sailed to France.


On 31 July, the ‘Chroby’ berthed at Boulogne, France, and the Czechoslovak escapees disembarked onto French soil. After some food, they boarded a train for the thirteen-hour journey to Paris. They arrived there at 17:30 and were taken by coaches to the French Foreign Legion’s recruitment barracks at Place Ballard, in the South West of Paris, to undergo medical checks, whilst the necessary documentation was prepared for their enlistment into the Legion pending their transfer to the Legion’s training base at Sidi bel Abbes, Algeria. During this time they attended French classes and any free time was usually spent in Paris exploring the sights and practising their newly learnt French with the girls they met. Before that process could be completed, war was declared and Raimund and the other Czechoslovak airmen were transferred instead to the l’Armée de l’Air at their recruitment centre at Dugny, near Paris.

With l’Arme d’Air, France.

On 11 September 1939, at the rank of Corporal-Chef [Staff Sergeant], he was transferred to Centre d’Instruction de Chasse for re-training on French MS-406c aircraft at Chartres, one of the l’Armée de l’Air training airbases and to learn basic French. On 2 December 1939, having completed 16 hrs of training he was posted to GC II/4 who were based at Xaffévillers, near Nancy, and equipped with Curtis H-75 fighter aircraft.

When WW2 was declared he was released from his Foreign Legion Service and transferred to l’Armée de l’Air. He arrived at their training base at Chartres on 11 September October 1939, to train on French fighter aircraft and learn more French. There he completed 16 hrs retraining and, on 2 December Raimund, was posted to GC II/4, with other Czechoslovak pilots.

On 10 May 1940, the Germans invaded France, and during the Battle of France, with this unit, Raimund flew over 73 operational hours and achieved three confirmed kills for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palmes:

Date Time< Curtis 75 Achieved Action
16/05/40 13:00 H75 -88 Ju 86 destroyed near Berry au Bac
20/05/40 17:00 75 -88 HeIII destroyed, shared victory near Betheniville.
28/05/40 17:00 H75 -88 Do17 destroyed near Betheniville.
11/06/40 05:30 Hs126 destroyed, shared victory near Attigny.

The rapidity of their blitzkrieg, however, caused GC II/4 to have to frequently change their airfields as they retreated westward and by 17 June they were at Perpignan-Labanere airfield in south-west France. When France capitulated on 20 June, GC II/4 flew their aircraft to Maison Blanch, a l’Arme d’Air airfield in Algeria and the following day to Oran la Senia airbase, Algeria. It was there that they learned that Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, appealed to all the evacuated Czechoslovak airmen to come to Britain and continue the fight from there. The l’Armée de l’Air released the Czechoslovak airmen from their service so that they could make their journey to Britain. The Czechoslovaks travelled for fourdays by train to Casablanca from where they boarded the ‘Gib-el-Dersa’ which sailed, at 15:12 on 29 June 1940, to Gibraltar, arriving at 11:00 on 30 June. Here they changed ships to the ’Neuralia’ and sailed on 2 July, in a convoy of about another 30 ships, for Liverpool, arriving on 12 July 1940. Like most of the Czechoslovaks, Raimund’s path first led to the Czechoslovak resettlement camp at Cholmondeley Park, near Chester.


The Battle of Britain was now in progress and there was an urgent need for fighter pilots. As a trained pilot he was quickly admitted to the voluntary reserves of the RAF, with the rank of Sergeant, on 5 August 1940. He subsequently was transferred to the Czechoslovak RAF Depot, Cosford. On 17 August 1940, he was posted to the newly formed 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn based at RAF Duxford and equipped with Hurricane Mk I fighter aircraft. Here the Czechoslovak airmen converted to the Hurricane as well as taking three English lessons per week. The Squadron was declared operational on 17 August making its first sortie that day. Raimund made his first operational flight, one of two that day, on 26 August in Hurricane P3889, thus qualifying him as a Battle of Britain pilot.

Raimund Půda, 310 Sqn Duxford, Summer 1940.

During the Battle of Britain he achieved two confirmed shared kills:

Date Time Hurricane Aircraft Action
15/09/40 12:05 V6619 ‘V’ Do17z destroyed East London.
18/09/40 17:15 P3889 ‘S’ Ju88 destroyed over Thames Estuary.

On 18 October, with Bohumír Fürst, he was posted to 605 Sqn (County of Warwick) in 11 Group of Fighter Command and was based at RAF Croydon They were equipped with Hurricane Mk I aircraft. There he made seven operational patrols, of which were made in one day on 26 October. Bothe Raimund and Fürst returned to 310 Sqn, at Duxford, on 28 October. At 10:30, on 5 November, twelve of 310 Sqn’s Hurricanes took-off to join up with 19 and 242 Sqns to patrol the Canterbury Dover section at 22,000 feet. There they were caught by surprise when Me 109s from 6/JG26 dived out of the sun and attacked them. Caught unawares, and without firing any of their guns, five of 310 Sqn’s Hurricanes were lost in that attack, including Raimund, flying Hurricane V6619. He was forced to bail out after sustaining severe damage to his oxygen system and control surfaces during combat. He landed unhurt and his aircraft crashed at Drill Hall, Sittingbourne.

Raimund’s recollection of that incident “We were flying above the clouds when we were attacked by a number of Me 109s. In the combat that followed, my Hurricane was badly damaged and I had to bail out. I saw that I was falling towards the middle of the River Thames, where many pilots had previously drowned. Fortunately, the wind turned and instead I was blown over land where I landed about three hundred metres from the shore. As I packed my parachute, I suddenly felt a sting in my back. I didn’t pay attention, but when the pricking repeated, I turned, and behind me stood an English farmer with a pitchfork. My English did not convince him that I was not a German parachutist but on the contrary a Czechoslovak pilot, a member of the RAF. He took me to the police, where everything was finally explained.”

Raimund ceased operational flying on 18 January 1941 when he was posted from 310 Sqn to No 1 Central Flying School, at RAF Upavon, Wiltshire, for training as a military flying instructor. He was promoted to the rank of F/Sgt on 1 March 1941 and completed his training course on 21 March 1941. His next posting was to No. 9 Service Flying Training Course (9 SFTS) at Hullavington, Wiltshire, to train new pilots. Whilst there he was commissioned at the rank of P/O. His next posting, on 23 January 1942, was to No 1 Signal School (1 SS) at RAF Cranwell and he stayed there until 6 August 1942. The next posting was to No 3 Elementary Flying Training School (3 EFTS) at RAF Shellingford, Oxfordshire, where he was a flying instructor. He was promoted to the rank of F/O on 25 December 1942.

He returned to non-instructional flying on 1 October 1943 with a posting to 24 Sqn at RAF Hendon. The squadron was in the RAF’s Transport Command and specialised in the transport of VIPs throughout the UK in Dakota DC3 or Hudson aircraft. On 2 October 1944, he was transferred to the Czechoslovak Transport Pool and to the Czechoslovak Inspectorate in London and two days later to the Czechoslovak Ministry of National Defence.

Raimund Půda, with other Czechoslovak airmen in 24 Sqn.

Post WW2

He returned to Czechoslovakia to find that many of his family had been persecuted by the Germans during the war. Initially, he remained in the Czechoslovak Air Force, in their Transport Regiment, until his demob on 1 February 1946. He then returned to civilian flying, re-joining ČSA as a pilot flying their national and international routes, usually in DC3s or Ju52 aircraft. Following the Communist take-over in February 1948, the Czechoslovaks who fought for the Allies in WW2 were regarded as being tainted by capitalism and thus ‘undesirable’ in the new Czechoslovak regime. Many were dismissed from the military, demoted, stripped of their Czechoslovak decorations, arrested, imprisoned and subjected to other forms of persecution and degradation. For the former RAF airmen who were now employed by ČSA, their position was very slightly different. During WW2 there had been no aviation training in Czechoslovakia, and so post WW2, when ČSA was rebuilding its airline and operating routes, the only trained pilots and aircrew were those who had served in the RAF. Thus these airmen were needed in the interim whilst new ‘politically reliable’ personnel were trained to take their place.

With ČSA post WW2.

In April 1948, as one of the most senior pilots with ČSA, he was selected to attend the first world meeting of commercial pilots which was held in London. Whilst there, he decided not to return to Czechoslovakia following that meeting and instead remained in the UK. Raimund wanted to resume his flying career, but his Czechoslovak commercial pilot’s license was not valid in the UK. He tried to sit the UK’s Civil Aviation Authorities exams to obtain a UK commercial pilots licence, but it was unsuccessful as his English was not up to the standard they required.

By the Summer of 1948, numerous former RAF airmen were escaping from Czechoslovakia following the Communist take-over and had made their way to England hoping to rejoin the RAF. To try and facilitate these returning Czechoslovaks, the RAF would accept their applications, which were reviewed by a panel to ascertain whether the applicant could be accepted back into the RAF and in what capacity. Raimund applied to rejoin the RAF and was accepted back as a pilot at his former rank of F/Lt. Many other of the Czechoslovak former RAF applicants were not so fortunate, only being offered lower ranks or lower trades than in WW2, whilst others were not receiving any offers.

RAF, post WW2.

Raimund re-joined the RAF on 1 October 1948 and re-trained onto jet fighter aircraft and participated in Operation Becher’s Brook; the flying of Sabre IV jet fighters from Canada to England. In the New Year’s Honours list of 1953, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. Subsequently, he flew de-Havilland Vampire jets from England, delivering them to operational units in the Far East.

During his flying career, he flew a total of 7,000 hrs, in 82 types of aircraft, ranging from biplanes and seaplanes to jet fighters.

Raimund Půda, Wencelas Square, Prague 1991.

On retiring from the RAF he entered private commerce until his final retirement in 1973. Following the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in November 1989, when the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia was overthrown, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, in retirement, in the Czechoslovak Air Force and subsequently, to Major General on 8 May 2000.

He died 17 March 2002 at Henly-on-Thames, UK, aged 89.

For his wartime service, in three Air Forces, he had been awarded the following medals:


3 Československý válečný kříž 1939 [Czechoslovak War Cross]

2 Za chrabrost [Gallantry facing the enemy medal]

Za zásluhy I.stupně [Merits medal 1st Grade]

Pamětní medaile československé armadý v zahraničí F a VB [Memorial Medal of Czechoslovak Foreign Army with France and Great Britain Bars]


The 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Clasp

Atlantic Star

Air Crew Europe Star

Defence Medal

War Medal


Croix de Guerre avec palme

Remembered :

A memorial plaque to commemorated him is at his former family home at Brník:

In the Černý Most District of Prague 14, a street is named in his honour:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of some 2500 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion monument at Klárov, Prague.

In England, he is commemorated, along with the other 2938 Battle of Britain aircrew, on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the National Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent:

He is also commemorated on the London Battle of Britain Memorial.

Posted in 310 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Biography, Not Forgotton | 3 Comments

Josef Frantisek – 80th Anniversary

On 10 October 2020, a ceremony was held at Otaslavice to commemorate the 80th anniversary of its most famous son – Sgt Josef František – who lost his life during a flying incident when returning from a combat patrol on 8 October 1940, during the Battle of Britain.

10. října 2020 se v Otaslavicích konal vzpomínkový obřad připomínající 80. výročí úmrtí jejich slavného rodáka, Sgt. Josefa Františka. Zemřel během bitvy o Británii, 8. října 1940 při letecké nehodě, když se vracel z hlídkového letu.

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Attending the event was MUDr Jitka Chalánková, from the Czech Senate, Col Jaroslaw Przybyslawski, Defense Attache, Polish Embassy Prague, W/Cmdr James Nichols, from the RAF, Marek Hýbl, Mayor of Otaslavice, Mrs Brigita Petrášová, Mayor of Morkůvky, Mgr. Vladimír Leitgeb, Director of the Josef František primary school, Maciej Ruczaj, Director of the Polish Institute, Prague. Relatives of Josef František and well-wishers attended but the guest list was restricted to comply with current covid-19 regulations.

Slavnostního aktu se zúčastnila senátorka MUDr. Jitka Chalánková. Col. Jaroslaw Przybyslawski vojenský přidělenec polské ambasády v Praze, W/Cmdr James Nichols, přislušník RAF, Marek Hýbl, starosta Otaslavic, Brigita Petrášová, starostka Morkůvek, Vladimír Leitgeb, ředitel Základní školy Josefa Františka, Maciej Ruczaj, ředitel Polského institutu v Praze a další hosté, jejichž seznam byl však omezen v souladu s omezeními v souvislosti s virem Covid-19.

Speech by Senator MUDr Jitka Chalánková.
Řeč senátorky MUDr. Jitky Chalánkové.

Video © Roman Starzyk

Speech by Marek Hýbl, Mayor of Otaslavice.
Řeč Marka Hýbla, starosty Otaslavic.

Video © Roman Starzyk

Speech by Vlastimil Štefek, on behalf of Klub Vojenské Historie Otaslavice.
Řeč Vlastimila Štefka za Klub vojenské historie Otaslavice.

Video © Roman Starzyk

Speech by Maciej Ruczaj, Director of the Polish Institute, Prague.
Řeč Macieje Ruczaje, ředitele polského institutu v Praze.

Video © Roman Starzyk

Video © Roman Starzyk

During the ceremony two Czech Air Force JAS 39 Gripen aircraft made a two fly-pasts over Otaslavice, on the second, they waggled their wings in acknowledgement to those below attending the ceremony.

V průběhu obřadu provedly dva stroje JAS 39 Gripen Vzdušných sil Armády České republiky dva přelety nad Otaslavicemi a všem přítomným zamávaly křídly.

Vladimír Ambros and W/Cmdr James Nichols.

Letter from British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to commemorate the event.
Dopis britského ministerského předsedy Borise Johnsona k této příležitosti.

After the ceremony, a small reception was held at the Josef Frantisek museum, for invited guests, during which W/Cmdr James Nichols read out a letter from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A Czech translation of the letter was read out by Vladimír Ambros.

Po skončení obřadu se konala v muzeu Josefa Františka pro zvané hosty malá recepce. Během ní W/Cmdr. James Nichols přednesl dopis britského ministerského předsedy Borise Johnsona. Jeho český překlad pak přečetl Vladimír Ambros.

The successful event was organised by the Klub Vojenské Historie Otaslavice and hosted by its Chairman Vladimír Ambros.

Tato úspěšná vzpomínková akce byla pořádána Klubem vojenské historie Otaslavice a vedena jejím předsedou, Vladimírem Ambrosem.


In England, an informal, covid-19 compliant, remembrance was held near the crash-site of where Sgt Josef František was killed in his Hurricane fighter Rf-R, R4175 on 8 October 1940.

V Anglii proběhla v souladu s omezeními způsobenými virem Covid-19 vzpomínková akce poblíž místa nehody, při níž Sgt. Josef František ve svém Hurricanu RF-R, R4175, 8. října 1940, zahynul.

The site was visited on 8 October 2020 – the 80th Anniversary of the crash – by Col Jiří Niedoba and CWO Tomáš Kašpar from the Czech Embassy, London who laid a Royal British Legion cross there on behalf of their Embassy. Similar crosses were also laid on behalf of the Slovak Embassy, London, Klub Vojenské Historie Otaslavice and the Kent Battle of Britain Museum who supported this remembrance.

Toto místo navštívili 8. října 2020, v den 80. výročí nehody, plk. Jiří Neidoba a CWO Tomáš Kašpar z České ambasády v Londýně a za ni zde umístili kříž britských legií. Stejný kříž sem přibyl jménem slovenské ambasády v Londýně, Klub Vojenské Historie Otaslavice a The Kent Battle of Britain Museum, které se také finančně podílelo na uskutečnění této akce.

Col Jiří Niedoba and CWO Tomáš Kašpar remembering Sgt Josef František.
Plukovník Jiří Niedoba and nadpraporčík Tomáš Kašpar připomínající si Sgt Josefa Františka.


Posted in Ace, Battle of Britain, Ceremony, Events, Museum, Not Forgotton | 3 Comments

Otto Hanzlicek – 10.10.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here.

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in 312 Sqd, Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Biography, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Jaroslav Hlavac – 10.10.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here.

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Biography, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Josef Frantisek – 08.10.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here.

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in Ace, Anniversary, Battle of Britain, Not Forgotton, Poland | Leave a comment

The Loss of Hurricane P3960

The loss of Hurricane P3960 by P/O Václav Bergman.

P/O Václav Bergman, 310 Sqn pilot.


After the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in March 1939, a large number of Czech airmen escaped, mainly through Poland, to France. Many took part in the early air actions of the war in the units of the French Air Force. In the concluding phases of the campaign, June 1940, the Czechoslovak Government in exile arranged the transportation of these airmen, and the ground forces, to the U.K. The first Czechoslovak fighter unit, No 310 Sgn, was formed at RAF Duxford on 10th July 1940.

310 Sqn Hurricane.

Due to language difficulties, the Command posts were double-banked by British officers. The pilots were quickly instructed in the handling o£ British aircraft and procedures. This task was entrusted mainly to F/O John Bolton, a qualified flying instructor, who was greatly respected and liked by all, and whose efforts were greatly appreciated. His nephew, Mr Ben Chamberlain, thoroughly researched his life and work with the Czech airmen. The squadron. was equipped with Hurricanes and, in mid-August was declared ‘operational’. I was a member of this unit holding the rank of a Pilot Officer.

Václav Bergman with other 310 Sqn pilots by a Hurricane, Duxford, 1940.

The Incident

It took place on 26 Aug 1940 at about 15:40 hrs. The Sqn was ordered to take-off at 15:00 hrs to patrol North Weald at 15,000ft. I was No 3 in Yellow section, led by F/Lt Gordon Sinclair. We entered clouds at about 3,000ft and broke into clear sky at 7,000ft. We were still climbing when a close formation of some 18 enemy bombers (Do 215’s) was sighted, proceeding on South-East course. By visual signals, the squadron was ordered to reform into line-astern by flights, and we began attacking the enemy formation from astern against concentrated fire from enemy gunners. The low clouds had disappeared. The action took place in the vicinity of the NE suburbs of London.

Quite suddenly, the Sqn was set upon by a number of enemy fighters – Me 109. With hindsight – these must have been lurking well above the bombers, and, our top cover, which should have been provided by a squadron of Spitfires, did not materialise. Immediately. a number of individual ‘dog fights’ developed. 1 found myself hounded by two Me 109, equipped with cannons – and I was no match for these.

Messerschmitt Me 109’s during the Battle of Britain.

I was soon peppered by a burst of fire, the engine started to smoke and to run intermittently. I also had a bullet or a splinter of a cannon shell in my left calf. To get off the mess, I entered a steep dive in an easterly direction towards open countryside. To my horror, I noticed the barrage balloons, tethered by steel cables, well above my head. I distinctly recall the shining steel cables, capable of sawing off a wing, and to this day I have no idea how I managed to avoid these. I as well below 2,000ft, had reached open country; the engine was pouring heavy oily smoke – just spattering and I had to get out. I pulled the Hurricane into a shallow climb, opened the cockpit and, fighting the slipstream, climbed onto the seat. The slipstream did the rest. It pulled me out of the cockpit, and clear of the tail surfaces. To pull the ‘D’ ring of my chute was an automatic action.

Wg/Cdr D. Blackwood

I landed in a hayfield, some 30yds from  the wreck. It was embedded in a hay-stack – all furiously burning. In no time at all, I was surrounded ’by a number of men wielding hay forks ana other farm appliances, obviously under the control of a farmer with a shotgun pointed at me. It was obvious I was assumed to be a German airman. I was quite shaken and my English as limited to my name, rank, unit and ‘RAF Duxford’. I was escorted to the nearby farmhouse at gunpoint. The gentlemen with the gun did a lot of phoning which confirmed my identity while the lady of the house washed and dressed my wound and we all had a cup of tea. Both, the lady and gentleman were very kind, but the conversation as very stilted due to my inadequate English.

At about 18:00 hrs, my Sqn Commander, Wg/Cdr D. Blackwood, drove in to claim me. He also had to bail out, having received an incendiary bullet in his fuel-tank but escaped unscathed. By 20:00hrs we ere standing at the bar at the Mess at Duxford none the worse for the experience. My wound was only a flesh wound and did not trouble me unduly. Next day I was taken to Cambridge Hospital for proper attention and three days later went back to full flying duties.

© Václav Bergman

Posted in 310 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Biography | 1 Comment

Jan Kaucky – One of the Few


Jeden z hrstky

…………….* 23.01.1907., Satalice, Prague.

…………….† 23.08.1970., Putney, UK.

Pre WW2
Před 2. svět. válkou

Jan Kaucky was born on 23 January 1907 in Satalice, a town in the north-east outskirts of Prague, Czechoslovakia. After completing his schooling, at age 18 he was accepted into the Czechoslovak Air Force for his compulsory military service. There he was selected for pilot training which he successfully completed. After his military service, he left the Air Force and found employment as a commercial pilot.

Jan Kaucký se narodil 23. ledna 1907 v Satalicích, tehdy vesnici na severovýchodním okraji Prahy v tehdejším Rakousku – Uhersku. Po ukončení školní docházky byl ve věku 18 let přijat do základní vojenské služby k letectvu. Tam byl vybrán pro pilotní výcvik, který také úspěšně dokončil. Po ukončení vojenské služby řady vojenského letectva opustil a našel si zaměstnání jako komerční pilot.

To France:
Do Francie:

Following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, on 15 March 1939, many Czechoslovaks began escaping over the border to neighbouring Poland with the intention of joining Czechoslovak military forces being assembled there. However, with the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, that avenue of escape ceased. Instead, the ‘Balkan Route’ was used: through the now German puppet-state of Slovakia, and then usually to Romania, then on to Yugoslavia to ports on the Adriatic. Here they would be assembled into groups and be transported by ship to Greece or Turkey.

Po 15. březnu 1939, kdy došlo k německé okupaci Československa, začali odcházet příslušníci rozpuštěných armádních sil ČSR přes hranice do sousedního Polska s úmyslem, připojit se k tam k nově utvářeným vojenským jednotkám v zahraničí. Avšak německou invazí do Polska, dne 1. září 1939, tato úniková cesta skončila. Místo toho se ujala tzv. „balkánská cesta“ – přes tehdy profašisticky orientovaný Slovenský štát a dále obvykle přes Maďarsko, Rumunsko a Jugoslávii do některého z přístavů na Jadranu. Zde byli shromažďováni a přepravováni loděmi do Řecka nebo Turecka.

Czechoslovak escapees having arrived at Istanbul.
Českoslovenští uprchlíci po příjezdu do Istanbulu.

From here they would then continue their journey by sea around the southern Mediterranean to avoid Axis intervention, stopping at Beruit before continuing to Marseille, France.

Odtud pak mohli pokračovat ve své cestě při jižním pobřeží Středomoří, a vyhnout se tak konfliktu s představiteli Osy. Po zastávce v Bejrútu pokračovali do francouzského Marseille.

Czechoslovak escapees just arrived at Marseille.
Českoslovenští uprchlíci po příjezdu do Marseille.

At Marseille, they would be taken to the Czechoslovak Depot at Agde, which was about 230 km away, whereJan arrived on 3 April 1940.

Z Marseille byli dopraveni do sběrného československého tábora, vzdáleného asi 250 km, kam Jan dorazil 3. dubna 1940.

Staff-Capitain Josef Schejbal with Czechoslovak airmen at Agde, Spring 1940.
Kapitán Josef Schejbal s československými letci v Agde, jaro 1940.

The Germans invaded France on 10 May 1940 and their rapid Blitzkrieg forced the Allied frontline back westwards. Before Jan could be posted to l’Armeé d’Air and with the French capitulation imminent, the Czechoslovaks at Agde were instructed to get to Bordeaux, about 350 km away, on France’s Atlantic coast for evacuation by ship to Britain before the advancing German army reached the port.

Německo napadlo Francii dne 10. května 1940 a jeho rychlý postup (Blitzkrieg) donutil spojeneckou frontu zpět na západ. Než mohl být Jan nasazen v l’Armeé d’Air, dostali s ohledem na hrozbu francouzské kapitulace všichni čsl. příslušníci v Agde pokyn k přesunu do 350 km vzdáleného Bordeaux, na francouzském pobřeží Atlantiku. Odtud byli evakuováni lodí do Británie ještě dříve, než bude přístav obsazen postupující německou armádou.

The ‘Karanan’ at sea enroute to Falmouth.
Parník Karanan na moři směřuje do Falmouthu.

Under the command of Staff-Capitan Josef Schejbal, they reached Bordeaux, where the Czechoslovaks, as well as Poles and other nationalities boarded the ship ‘Karanan’, a small 395 tonne Dutch cargo ship, for the voyage to Britain. They sailed on 19 June and arrived on 21 June at Falmouth, , which was good timing as France capitulated on 22 June.

Do Bordeaux dorazili pod velením kapitána Josefa Schejbala, a na cestu do Británie se nalodili spolu s Poláky a příslušníky dalších národností na „Karanan“, malou nizozemskou nákladní loď o hmotnosti 395 tun. Vypluli 19. června a do Falmouthu dorazili 21. června, což bylo právě včas, neboť Francie následující den kapitulovala.

Escaping from France aboard the ‘Karanan’.
Únik z Francie na palubě lodi ‚Karanan ‘.


Some of the founding members of 310 Sqn, Duxford, July 1940.
Někteří ze zakládajících členů 310. perutě, Duxford, červenec 1940.

After arriving at Falmouth, the Czechoslovak airmen were transferred to RAF Innsworth, , Gloucestershire for security vetting. On 12 July he was accepted into the RAF Volunteer Reserve, at the rank of AC2, and the following day posted to the newly formed 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, becoming one of its founding members. The squadron was stationed at Duxford and equipped with Hurricane Mk I fighter aircraft. Here Jan was promoted to the rank of Sgt and with the other Czechoslovak pilots was re-trained on Hurricane aircraft and taught rudimentary English, being tutored by Louis de Glehn for three lessons per week. The squadron was declared operational on 17 August and participated in the Battle of Britain.

Po příjezdu do Falmouthu byli českoslovenští letci převezeni k bezpečnostnímu prověření do RAF Innsworth v Gloucestershire. 12. července byl Jan přiřazen k dobrovolnické záloze RAF v hodnosti vojína a následující den byl převelen k nově se utvářející 310. (československé) peruti a stal se tak jedním z jejich zakládajících členů. Peruť měla svoji základnu v Duxfordu a byla vyzbrojena letouny Hurricane Mk I. Zde byl Jan povýšen do hodnosti četaře a spolu s dalšími československými piloty se účastnil rekvalifikace na tyto stíhací letouny a také kurzů základů anglického jazyka, které vedl Louis de Glehn v rozsahu tří lekcí týdně. Peruť byla schopna operativní činnosti od 17. srpna 1940 a ještě zasáhla do bojů v Bitvě o Británii.

Jan completed his Hurricane conversion and was passed for duties as an operational pilot, undertaking his first patrol on 31 August in Hurricane P3156, thus qualifying him as a Battle of Britain pilot. On 5 September, during that Battle, whilst flying Hurricane Mk I P8809, he was wounded in the leg during a dog-fight with a Me 109 over the Thames Estuary at 14:50 but he managed to land safely back at Duxford. He achieved combat success on 15 September when he flew a morning and afternoon patrol and in each achieved a ½ share victory in two Dornier 17s, one of which crashed onto the forecourt of Victoria Station.

Jan dokončil přeškolení na letouny Hurricane a byl jmenován do funkce stíhacího pilota; 31. srpna provedl svůj první operační let s letounem Hurricane P3156, čímž se kvalifikoval jako pilot Bitvy o Británii. Dne 5. září, během jednoho z operačních letů, když pilotoval stroj Hurricane Mk I P8809, byl zraněn do nohy během divokého souboje s Me 109 nad ústím řeky Temže ve 14:50, ale podařilo se mu bezpečně přistát zpět v Duxfordu. Bojového úspěchu dosáhl 15. září, kdy se zúčastnil ranní i odpolední hlídky a v každé z nich dosáhl ½ podílu na sestřelení dvou Dornier 17, z nichž jeden se zřítil před nádražím Victoria Station.

On 28 October, Czechoslovak National Day, he was awarded his 1st medal, the Czechoslovak Za Chrabost. By 31 October 1940, the recognised end date of the Battle of Britain, Jan had undertaken 30 operational flights.

Dne 28. října téhož roku, při příležitosti výročí vzniku ČSR, mu byla udělena jeho 1. čsl. medaile "Za Chrabost". Do 31. října 1940, považovaného za ukončení Bitvy o Británii, provedl Jan celkem 30 operačních letů.

With fellow 310 Sqn Czechoslovak pilots.
Spolu s ostatními československými piloty 310. perutě.

Jan remained with 310 Sqn until 7 March 1941 when he had completed his operational tour. Now at the rank of F/Sgt, he was posted to 52 Operational Training Unit (52 OTU) at Debden, Essex, as a flying instructor. He received his commission, at the rank of P/O, on 1 October 1942. On 1 January 1943, he was promoted to F/O and posted to No 15 Maintenance Unit (15 MU), a Repair Unit in No 4 Group at RAF Stanmore Park, as a test pilot for repaired damaged aircraft prior to them being assigned to operational squadrons. He remained in this position until 29 February 1944 when he was posted to 105 OTU, at RAF Bramcote, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where he attended No 10 course for conversion onto multi-engined transport aircraft, training as Crew ‘C’ as pilot, along with P/O Vlastimil HLAVÁČ (navigator) and Flt/Lt Jaroslav LIŠKA (W/Op). On completion of his retraining, on 6 June 1944, he was posted, at the rank of F/Lt, to 511 Sqn at RAF Lyneham for flying duties. 511 Sqn was part of RAF Transport Command and operated Liberator, Dakota DC3 and Avro York aircraft flying personnel and freight around the UK and also to Gibraltar en route for the Middle and Far East.

Jan zůstal u 310. perutě až do 7. března 1941, kdy dokončil svůj operační turnus. Nyní, už v hodnosti rotného, byl převelen k 52. operační výcvikové jednotce (52 OTU) v Debdenu v Essexu, jako instruktor létání. Povýšení do hodnosti poručíka obdržel 1. října 1942. 1. ledna 1943 byl povýšen do hodnosti nadporučíka a vyslán k jednotce údržby č. 15 (15 MU), a jednotce oprav č. 4 na RAF Stanmore Park, jako zkušební pilot opravených poškozených letounů předtím, než byly přiděleny k operačním letkám. Na této pozici zůstal až do 29. února 1944, a poté byl převelen ke 105. OTU, na základně RAF Bramcote, Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Zde navštěvoval přeškolovací kurz č. 10 na vícemotorová dopravní letadla, na úrovni pilota posádky „C“ , spolu s poručíkem Vlastimilem Hlaváčem (navigátor) a kapitánem Jaroslavem Liškou (radiotelegrafista). Po ukončení rekvalifikace byl 6. června 1944 převelen v hodnosti kapitána ke službě u 511. peruti RAF Lyneham. 511. peruť plnila úkoly Velitelství dopravy, provozovala nákladní letadla typu Liberator, Dakota DC3, Avro York a přepravovala osoby a náklad po Velké Británii včetně základny na Gibraltaru při cestách na Střední a Dálný východ.

On 2 October 1944, with the end of the war in sight, the Czechoslovak airmen in 511 Sqn, whilst remaining with the squadron until the end of the war, were then classified as members of the Czechoslovak Air Force Transport Pool. Only in August 1945 were the Czechoslovaks serving in the RAF permitted to return to their homeland by its new Russian liberators. During his RAF service Jan had flown 39 different types of aircraft.

Dne 2. října 1944, když už byl konec války na dohled, byli českoslovenští letci u 511. perutě, kteří u této perutě zůstali až do konce války, ustanoveni jako příslušníci transportního útvaru československého letectva. Avšak návrat do své vlasti byl Čechoslovákům, sloužícím v RAF, umožněn jejich novými sovětskými osvoboditeli až v měsíci srpnu. Během své služby v RAF Jan pilotoval 39 různých typů letadel.

Return to Czechoslovakia:
Návrat do Československa:

On his return, Jan remained in the Czechoslovak Air Force until he was demobilised on 31 January 1946, and was employed at České Aeroline ČSA, the state airline, as a pilot. This was a common destination for many other Czech ex-RAF people as during WW2 there had been no civilian aviation or training and thus in the immediate post WW2 period in Czechoslovakia, it was those who had served in the RAF who had current aviation experience and training. Initially, he flew ex Luftwaffe Ju 52s and a year later ČSA purchased some 29 DC3s which Jan flew on international flights around Europe.

Po svém návratu Jan zůstal v československém letectvu, dokud nebyl dne 31. ledna 1946 demobilizován, a našel si nové zaměstnání pilota ve státní letecké společnosti České Aerolinie – ČSA. To byl také cíl velké části dalších bývalých čsl. letců z RAF, protože během 2.svět. války žádné civilní letectví ani výcvik neexistovalo, a tak v bezprostředním období po válce byli v Československu jediní, kdo měli praktické zkušenosti v létání a v řízení leteckého provozu. Zpočátku pilotoval letouny Luftwaffe Ju 52s a o rok později ČSA koupila 29 strojů Douglas DC-3 Dakota, se kterými Jan létal na mezinárodních spojích po celé Evropě.

In the aftermath of the Communist putsch of February 1948, the Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who had fought in the West were now regarded by the Communist authorities as being politically unreliable and undesirable citizens. The Communists commenced purging them from the military services and also ČSA. Usually, this would entail being placed on ‘waiting leave’ followed by arrest, interrogation, and detention by the Státní bezpečnost [StB], the Czechoslovak Secret Police. This invariably led to a ‘trial’ – a formality as the outcome had already been decided – and imprisonment for several years at a hard labour camp. Many former RAF airmen made the choice of escaping again to the West rather than be persecuted by their Communist countrymen. Whilst the more usual means of escape was to illegally cross the border into the American Zone of Germany, some of the airmen also escaped by aircraft and eventually, during the period 1948 to 1953, over 20 military and civilian aircraft were used to escape to the West.

V důsledku komunistického puče v únoru 1948 byli českoslovenští letci a vojáci, kteří bojovali na Západě, považováni komunistickými úřady za politicky nespolehlivé a ve státní správě nežádoucí občany. Komunisté je začali propouštět z armády i ze služby v ČSA. Obvykle se to dělo cestou nucené dovolené, po níž obvykle následovalo zatčení, výslech a zadržení Státní bezpečností (StB), československou tajnou policií. Následoval “soudní proces”, což byla ovšem jenom formalita, neboť o odsouzení a výši trestu bylo rozhodnuto předem – uvěznění na několik let v pracovním táboře. Řada bývalých letců RAF se proto rozhodla utéci znovu na Západ, než aby riskovali pronásledováni svými komunistickými spoluobčany. Zatímco obvyklejším způsobem útěku bylo ilegální překročení hranice do americké zóny v Německu, někteří letci zvolili cestu za svobodou letadlem a tak v průběhu let 1948 až 1953 došlo k více než 20 úspěšným pokusům o útěk na Západ prostřednictvím vojenských i civilních letadel.

Escape to the West:
Útěk na Západ

By 1950 Jan was ČSA‘s Chief Test pilot at Prague-Ruzyně airport, but he had been planning his escape with two former 310 Sqn pilots, who were now also working as pilots for ČSA. The others involved were Josef Řechka, Edvard Prchal, and Jan Kaucký. They had been planning their escape for nearly a year before conditions finally became favourable. Because of constant surveillance, their meetings had to be arranged by coded telephone calls. The key to their plan was that Jan Kaucký, being ČSA chief test pilot and based at Ruzyně airport, was in a position that would allow the best opportunity for taking an aircraft without supervision. The plan also required an isolated landing ground in close proximity to Prague. After numerous abortive surveys for asuitable landing ground, including one which nearly resulted in their discovery, they found somewhere satisfactory – a field near Neratovice, about 20km North-East of Ruzyně airport. They had to bring forward their plan to escape when Kaucký was tipped off that he was going to be replaced as test pilot.

V roce 1950 byl Jan ve funkci hlavního zkušebního pilota v ČSA na letišti Praha-Ruzyně, a svůj útěk plánoval se dvěma dalšími bývalými piloty 310. perutě, kteří rovněž pracovali jako piloti v ČSA. Těmi byli Josef Řechka a Eduard Prchal. Útěk plánovali téměř rok, než se všechny jeho podmínky sešly jako nejpříznivější. Kvůli neustálému sledování musely být jejich schůzky organizovány kódovanými telefonními hovory. Klíčem k jejich plánu byla skutečnost, že Jan Kaucký, hlavní zkušební pilot ČSA, působící na letišti v Ruzyni, byl ve funkci, která umožňovala jedinečnou příležitost převzít letoun bez toho, že by tím vzbudil podezření. Plán také vyžadoval vhodnou přistávací dráhu v těsné blízkosti Prahy. Řada neúspěšných pokusů takovou plochu nalézt, kdy se málem prozradili, nakonec vyústila v uspokojivý nález pole poblíž Neratovic, asi 20 km severovýchodně od letiště Ruzyně. Svůj plán útěku však museli uspíšit, neboť byl Jan Koucký upozorněn, že se chystá jeho odvolání z funkce zkušebního pilota.

The following day,30 September 1950, the 12thAnniversary of the Munich Agreement, Řechka called in to ČSA to report sick and Prchal was off duty. They collected their families and with a few small items of luggage, they drove to the chosen landing ground.

Následujícího dne bylo 30. září 1950, 12. výročí podepsání Mnichovské dohody, kdy Řechka zavolal na ČSA, aby se omluvil pro nemoc a Prchal byl toho dne mimo službu. Shromáždili své rodiny a s několika malými zavazadly odjeli na zvolené přistávací místo.

On this day Jan was due to take Dakota DC3 [C47] OK-WAA, a freight aircraft, for a test flight. However, prior to take-off he had discreetly had the aircraft fuelled with 2,300 litres [500 gallons] of fuel. At Ruzyně airport a visit by a VIP Soviet delegation was then in progress. Kaucký seized this unexpected opportunity and sent his crew to watch the parade. Once they were away from the aircraft, with no other crew or the usual Security Police on board, he closed the passenger door and went to the cockpit, started the engines and requested take-off clearance. He received that clearance and took-off. Once airborne he made a customary circuit of the airport and then set off on a pre-planned route. Every few minutes he transmitted false position reports, to mislead Ruzyně control tower as to his actual location.

Ten den měl Jan provést zkušební let se strojem Dakota DC3 [C47] OK-WAA, v nákladní verzi. Před vzletem nechal tajně natankovat 2 300 litrů paliva. Na ruzyňském letišti právě probíhala VIP návštěva sovětské delegace. Kaucký využil této nečekané příležitosti a svou posádku poslal, aby se účastnila ceremoniálu. Jakmile se posádka vzdálila od letadla a zůstal na palubě sám a v dohledu nebyla ani bezpečnostní policie, zavřel dveře pro pasažéry, šel do pilotní kabiny, nastartoval motory a požádal o povolení ke vzletu. Poté, co ho obdržel, vzlétl. Jakmile se dostal do vzduchu, provedl obvyklý okruh kolem letiště a nastavil kurz na předem naplánovanou trasu. Každých pár minut hlásil zprávy s falešnými údaji o své poloze, aby uvedl ruzyňskou kontrolní věž v omyl, pokud se týkalo jeho směru letu.

A few kilometres from Ruzyně, two cars were parked and the occupants were watching the sky above the airport for the aircraft. The car’s occupants were Josef Řechka, Edvard Prchal, their wives, Řechka’s 2-year-old son, Prchal’s 5-year-old daughter. Kaucký’s wife and young son Josef, and Josef Řechka’s younger brother Jiří. When the aircraft was seen, these hopeful escapees drove their cars to an abandoned airstrip at Kralupy nad Vltavou, about 15 km from Prague, which had been previously reconnoitred as a suitable landing site.

Pár kilometrů od Ruzyně byla zaparkována dvě auta a jejich cestující sledovali oblohu nad letištěm, zda zahlédnou svoje letadlo. Cestujícími ve vozech Josef Řechka, Edvard Prchal a jejich manželky, Řechkův dvouletý syn a Prchalova pětiletá dcera. Dále zde byla Kauckého manželka, malý syn Josef a mladší bratr Josefa Řechky, Jiří. Poté, kdy spatřili letadlo, v nadšení přejeli se svými auty k opuštěné přistávací dráze, která byla předtím zvolena jako vhodné místo přistání.

As the aircraft approached the airstrip, it circled it and Kaucký waggled the aircraft wings – a pre-arranged signal to the ground party that he was alone in the aircraft and no Security Police were present.

Když se letadlo blížilo k místu přistání, obkroužilo jej a Koucký zamával křídly jako předem domluvený signál, že je na palubě sám, bez členů bezpečnostní policie.

In response, the ground party waved a white pillowcase to acknowledge Kaucký’s signal; this also advised him that the ground party was alone and that it was safe to land. Kaucký lowered the undercarriage and made a perfect landing on the bumpy field. He taxied to a corner of the landing ground where the ground party was waiting in hiding. With the engines still running, he went to the back of the aircraft, opened the rear door and dropped down the boarding ladder.

V reakci na to skupina připravených cestujících na zemi zamávala bílým povlečením, aby potvrdila Kauckého signál; tím byl také ujištěn, že i na zemi je vše v pořádku a že může přistát. Kaucký vysunul podvozek a perfektně přistál na hrbolatém poli. Pojížděl do rohu přistávací plochy, kde ve skrytu čekali budoucí pasažéři. Se stále běžícími motory šel do zadní části letadla, otevřel zadní dveře a spustil dolů nástupní žebřík.

The landing ground at Neratovice.
Místo přistání na poli u Neratovic.

Even before the aircraft had stopped, the ground party, taking their few items of personal luggage, were rushing to the aircraft. They boarded and were ordered to the front of the aircraft’s cabin, Kaucký ran back to the cockpit with Prchal to assist him with the take-off. Řechka closed the rear door. Before the passengers were even halfway to the front of the aircraft it was already taking off and went immediately into a steep climb. The passengers fell to the floor and slid down the aircraft towards the tail – a frightening experience for all, especially the children. This had been the most difficult part of the escape and had only taken about 90 seconds.

Ještě předtím, než se letadlo zastavilo, cestující na zemi pobrali pár svých příručních zavazadel a spěchali k letadlu. Nastoupili a během jejich přesunu do přední části letadla, Kaucký běžel zpět do kabiny spolu s Prchalem, aby mu pomohl při vzletu. Řechka měl za úkol zavřít nástupní dveře. Cestující nebyli ještě ani v polovině cesty k přední části trupu, když letoun vzlétl a začal strmě stoupat. Pasažéři upadli na podlahu a klouzali zpět směrem k zádi – děsivý zážitek pro všechny, zejména děti. Měla to být nejhorší část celého útěku a trvala však jenom kolem 90 sekund.

Prchal now took over the controls and flying at ground-hugging height to evade radar and patrolling Czechoslovak Me109 fighter aircraft, headed West. Fortunately, it was a cloudy day. Kaucký broke wireless silence and called Ruzyně control tower and reported the aircraft’s position as 15 miles East of Prague. In his next radio contact, he said he was South of the airfield, while setting course for the Czechoslovak border and into the American Zone of Germany. Even so, the 20-minute flight to the Czechoslovak border was nerve-racking for all on board. As they crossed the border Kaucký made a final call to Ruzyně control tower requesting permission to land, which was given. They safely crossed into the American Zone of Germany, with no Russian fighter aircraft being encountered. Ruzyně was still unaware of the escape attempt and had not reported the aircraft as missing.

Prchal potom převzal řízení a letěl nízko nad zemí, aby se vyhnul zachycení radarem a také hlídkujícím stíhacím letounům Me109 v kurzu směrem na západ. Naštěstí bylo ten den zamračeno. Kaucký přerušil radiový klid, spojil se s řídící věží Ruzyně a hlásil polohu letadla jako 15 mil východně od Prahy. Ve svém dalším rádiovém spojení uváděl polohu na jih od letiště, zatímco skutečně nastavený kurz byl k československé hranici a do americké zóny Německa. I tak byl 20minutový let k československým hranicím pro všechny na palubě plný nervozity. Při překročení hranice se Kaucký naposledy spojil s ruzyňskou věží a požádal o povolení k přistání, které mu bylo uděleno. Bezpečně přešli do americké zóny Německa, aniž by se setkali s ruskými stíhačkami. Obsluha řídící věže v Ruzyni stále ještě nevěděla o pokusu o útěk a neoznámila letadlo jako pohřešované.

They were now flying over the American Zone of Germany and in relative safety. They were spotted near Frankfurt by patrolling American fighter aircraft which came to investigate them. Satisfied that the Czechoslovak DC3 was not a threat, the fighters escorted them for about 5 minutes as they were heading towards Brussels. From Brussels, they set course for England where they hoped to land at RAF Manston, Kent.

Nyní letěli nad americkou zónou Německa a byli v relativním bezpečí. Poblíž Frankfurtu byli spatřeni hlídkou amerických stíhaček, která je identifikovala. Spokojeni s tím, že československý DC3 nepředstavuje žádné nebezpečí, je stíhačky doprovázeli asi 5 minut v kurzu na Brusel. Nad Bruselem změnili kurz do Anglie a předpokládali, že přistanou na základně RAF Manston v Kentu.

Within 3½ hours of the aircraft leaving Prague, they were now contacting RAF Manston for permission to land. On the radio they called“Hullo Manston tower, this is OK-WAA calling. How do you read.” Manston responded and the aircraft sent the message:“This is an escape flight from Czechoslovakia. Repeat an escape flight from Czechoslovakia. Give us instructions for landing”. When they landed the first person to meet the escapees was the station commander who fortunately had been a RAF colleague of Prchal during the war.

Po 3 a půl hodinách letu z Prahy se nyní spojili s RAF Manston a požádali o povolení přistát. Do radia hlásili „Halo, věž Manston, tady OK-WAA. Jak nás slyšíte? “ Manston odpověděl a letadlo vyslalo zprávu: „Toto je letoun na útěku z Československa. Opakuji, útěk z Československa. Žádám o pokyny k přistání “. Po přistání byla první osoba, se kterou se setkali, velitel základny, který byl naštěstí během války Prchalův kolega v RAF.

OK-WAA parked at RAF Manston, October 1950.
Letoun OK-WAA, zaparkovaný na základně RAF Manston, říjen 1950.

The escapers were kept at Manston for four days in complete secrecy whilst they were security vetted by British authorities. They were then cleared by immigration officials and permitted to go to the Free Czechoslovak Club at Hampstead, London, whilst arrangements for their new lives in freedom were made. At this temporary accommodation, they were interviewed by the Press, during which Mrs. Doly Prchal, a former Czechoslovak WAAF and war correspondent said:

Uprchlíci byli pozdrženi v Manstonu čtyři dny v naprostém utajení, zatímco byli bezpečnostně prověřováni britskými úřady. Poté byli imigračními úředníky propuštěni a bylo jim umožněno jít do Svobodného československého klubu v Hampsteadu v Londýně, zatímco byla činěna opatření pro jejich nový život na svobodě. Při tomto dočasném ubytování poskytli interview pro tisk, během kterého paní Doly Prchal, bývalá členka československé WAAF a válečná zpravodajka, uvedla:

The escapees being interviewed at the Czechoslovak Club, London.
Uprchlíci poskytují interview v Československém klubu v Londýně.

“The escape had been planned for many months and we had been waiting for favourable conditions. In the present Red paradise of Czechoslovakia there was no chance for us. As civilian airline pilots flying abroad the men could simply fail to return home, but there was the question of families, mainly the children.

“Útěk jsme plánovali po řadu měsíců a čekali jsme na příznivé podmínky. V současném komunistickém Československu pro nás nebyla šance. Naši manželé se jako piloti civilních letadel, létajících do zahraničí, mohli jednoduše rozhodnout už se domů nevrátit, ale byla tu otázka rodin, a hlavně našich dětí.

“Airline crews had been the No 1 priority on the ‘enemy list’ of the secret police. The most severe reprisals against families of those who remained abroad was one of the most effective arms deterrents against the fliers. On Saturday, the 12th anniversary of Munich, fate was kind to us. Capt. Kaucký, a former RAF pilot, succeeded in overcoming difficulties which people in a free country cannot understand.”

Posádky leteckých společností byly prioritou číslo jedna na „seznamech nepřátel“ tajné policie. Kruté represálie vůči rodinám těch, kteří v zahraničí zůstali, byly jedním z nejúčinnějších odstrašujících prostředků proti našim letcům. V sobotu, kdy bylo výročí 12. výročí Mnichova, byl k nám osud laskavý. Kapitánovi Kauckému, bývalému pilotovi RAF, se podařilo překonat potíže, kterým lidé ve svobodné zemi nemohou porozumět.

“This was the first escape of its kind. No other aircraft had escaped by making an unauthorised landing in Czechoslovakia and taking passengers abroad. Failure would have meant the death penalty for the men.”

Je to první útěk tohoto druhu. Zatím žádné jiné letadlo neprovedlo manévr nedovoleného přistání a s přijatými cestujícími na palubě, pak odlétlo do zahraničí. Jakékoliv selhání během operace by znamenalo jistý trest smrti pro naše muže.

“The Czechoslovak Government and its so-called peoples’ tribunals are quite generous in distributing death penalties to all citizens of the ‘free’ country who have a different political view and who are not willing to serve Stalin the Great”

Československá vláda a její tzv. “lidové soudy” jsou velmi štědré při vynášení trestů smrti svým spoluobčanům „svobodné“ země, kteří však mají jiný politický názor a nejsou ochotni sloužit Velkému Stalinovi.

“Probably 90% of the population did not agree with the present regime, she said but they were helpless against the well-armed police whose highly skilled methods seemed derived from Russian and Nazi experience. Even the Communists themselves did not feel safe.”

Pravděpodobně 90% populace nesouhlasí se současným režimem, řekla, ale jsou bezmocní proti dobře vyzbrojené policii a jejím sofistikovaným metodám represe, převzatým zřejmě z ruských a nacistických praktik. Ani samotní komunisté se necítí v bezpečí.“

The three pilots now hoped to rejoin the RAF and rebuild their lives in the West. However, because of his age, Jan,now 43, was unable to rejoin the RAF, and in June 1951, sought the assistance of the Czech Refugee Trust Fund; a refugee aid organisation originally started in 1939 to assist Czechoslovak refugees fleeing from the Nazis., After the Communist putsch of February 1948, the Trust was to continue its noble work by now helping Czechoslovak refugees escaping from Communists. With their aid, Jan and his family emigrated to Canada where he hoped to be able to continue his flying career. However, Jan was only able to find employment as an aircraft inspector and the family returned, departing by ship from Montreal, Canada, arriving at Liverpool, England on 15 July 1957 and settling in London.

Všichni tři piloti doufali, že se znovu vrátí k RAF a postaví na tom svůj nový život na Západě. Jan, v té době už 43 let, však kvůli svému věku nenalezl u RAF uplatnění a v červnu 1951 se obrátil s žádostí o pomoc na Český podpůrný fond pro uprchlíky; organizace na pomoc uprchlíkům původně začala pracovat v roce 1939 jako podpora československým občanům, prchajícím před nacisty. Po komunistickém puči v únoru 1948 pokračoval tento Fond ve své ušlechtilé práci tím, že nyní pomáhal československým občanům, prchajícím před komunisty. S jejich pomocí Jan a jeho rodina emigrovali do Kanady, kde doufal, že bude moci pokračovat ve své letecké kariéře. Našel však zaměstnání pouze jako letecký inspektor a tak se rodina rozhodla vrátit. Z kanadského Montrealu odplula lodí a 15. července 1957 dorazila do anglického Liverpoolu, aby se potom usadila v Londýně.

He died on 23 August 1970, in Putney, London, UK, aged 63.

Jan zemřel 23. srpna 1970 v Putney v Londýně ve věku 63 let.



Válečný kříž 1939 [War Cross 1939]

Za chrabrost [Gallantry facing the enemy medal]

Za zásluhy I.stupně [Merits medal 1st Grade]

Pamětní medaile československé armadý v zahraničí F a VB [Memorial Medal of Czechoslovak Foreign Army with France and Great Britain Bars]


The 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Clasp

Air Crew Europe Star

Defence Medal

War Medal

Pamětní místa:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of some 2500 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion monument at Klárov, Prague.

V listopadu 2017 bylo jeho jméno, spolu se jmény asi 2500 dalších československých mužů a žen, kteří sloužili v RAF během 2. světové války, odhaleno na pomníku Okřídleného lva v Praze na Klárově:

In England, he is commemorated, along with the other 2938 Battle of Britain aircrew, on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the National Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent:

V Anglii je připomenut, spolu s dalšími 2938 posádkami Bitvy o Británii, na pamětní zdi Christopher Foxley-Norris u Památníku národní Bitvy o Británii v Capel-le-Ferne v Kentu:

He is also commemorated on the London Battle of Britain Memorial.

Je také připomenut na Památníku Bitvy o Británii v Londýně:

Posted in 310 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Biography, Into exile, Not Forgotton, Victim of Communism | 1 Comment

Vladimir Horsky – 26.09.1940.

An English/Czech biography for him is here.

Jeho českou a anglickou biografii najdete zde.

Posted in Battle of Britain, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment